The production of quorum-sensing-related signal molecules (QSRMs) among culturable bacteria comprising the community on wheat heads was investigated. The taxonomic position of 186 bacterial isolates obtained from ten heads was inferred based on 16S rRNA gene sequences, and their QSRM production was determined using two bioreporter strains of N-acylhomoserine lactones. Approximately 33% of isolates produced QSRMs, though the proportion of QSRM-producing isolates on a wheat head was significantly negatively correlated with population size. Most of the producing isolates were Pantoea species, most commonly Pantoea ananatis. Furthermore, the proportion of Pantoea ananatis that produced QSRMs was significantly negatively correlated with the number of bacterial genera (community richness) on each head. Finally, community richness was positively correlated with population size. Qualitative analysis using thin-layer-chromatography revealed that the QSRMs of Pantoea isolates were composed of at least two compounds. This is the first report indicating that Pantoea ananatis isolates inhabiting wheat heads are capable of producing QSRMs. QSRM production by Pantoea spp. may contribute to the predominance of this genus on wheat heads, particularly at relatively low population densities and community diversity.
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